Thursday, July 23, 2009

Columbia artists making mark from Chicago to Key West to Lifetime Television

Terrance Henderson, artistic director of Vibrations Dance Company, just won the Jazz Dance World Congress Bronze Award for Choreography. His piece "STAND" was performed late last week at Chicago's Millennium Park as part of the Jazz Dance World Congress. It was one of 14 works selected for the event.

Henderson (that's him up front in the photo) is a native of Newberry and a University of South Carolina graduate.
Along with creating original pieces for Vibrations and other companies, he has choreographed Columbia productions of "Dreamgirls," "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Guys and Dolls." Henderson also recently received the dance fellowship from the S.C. Arts Commission.

Serious zombies in Key West

Sitting outside the Forest Acres Starbucks, Paul Kaufmann, Monica Wyche (left) and Dean Poyner were talking about how early they'd get a start the next day, if anyone needed an air mattress and who would leave who's car where. The three were heading to Key West for a residency and minimal production of Poyner's new play "Homo Apocalyptus."
With them was Chad Henderson, director of the play and carrier of a bad cold. Behind the counter inside, actor Sydney Mitchell was slammed with coffee drinkers and never could take a break to talk. Henderson and Mitchell planned to head South a day after the others once they closed "The Rocky Horror Show," which Henderson directed and in which Mitchell plays Janet.
They'll all be the first theater artists in residence at the Studios at Key West, which invites artists of various sorts in and also operates artists' studios and classes in an old Armory at the end of the continental U.S.
One thing that helped in getting the play and players to Key West is that studios director Eric Holowacz (who has also run arts organizations in Beaufort, S.C., and Wellington, New Zealand) is from Columbia. He and Wyche attended Irmo High School together and worked elbow to elbow in a Five Points frozen yogurt shop.
Poyner, (left) who moved from Columbia to Pittsburgh last year, calls "Homo Apocalyptus" an entry into the 'grossly-underdeveloped zombie genre."
Despite that description the play is a serious drama, with a few laughs, about a handful of people who have escaped diseases that have ravaged the earth.
"There's a lot of information out there about surviving something like this," Poyner said. "It's a psychological thriller."
The characters take refuge in a Key West bar.. Although Poyner was working on a version of the play before the Key West residency developed, setting a play at the end of the world sort of at the end of the world made sense.
"It's also great to do a play in the place where it's set," Poyner said.
The group will work on the show for about two weeks and do one or two public performances.
"The Studios at Key West is only three years old," said Holowacz, "and with a lot of our developments, I tend to fashion them as a pilot programs first, as trials that can be tested, evaluated, adjusted.
Wyche and Kaufmann are well-known actors in Columbia, having starred in many plays, most recently as the leads in "Dangerous Liaisons" at Workshop Theatre. Henderson has directed plays at Trustus and Mitchell is an emerging actor who has done several significant roles.
Poyner, who is at Carnegie Mellon University earning his master of fine arts degree, has had a great run recently.
Last year he won the 2008 Helford Prize in Drama ($10,000) for his play "Losing Sleep." Set in a sleep disorder clinic, the play will be produced in New York by the American Theatre of Actors in August. His play "Paradise Key" was selected by Trustus Theatre as winner of its new play competition; it will have a staged reading there Aug. 15 and get a full production next summer. It is also about a disease that could take on epidemic proportions. If that's not enough, Poyner has also worked a lot as an actor, playing opposite Wyche in "Bug" and in "Take Me Out," both at Trustus.
During the meeting at the coffee shop, Poyner handed script changes around the table. They'll have plenty of time to study them - Key West is about a 14 hour drive from Columbia.

Art show for the Carolinas

Elder Gallery in Charlotte is organizing an all-Carolina art show in November and is accepting entries. The exhibition is modeled after the Springs Art Show which ran for many years in Fort Mill, home of textile maker Springs Industries. A catalog will also be produced. Up to 50 works will be included in the show.
The deadlines for entries - two-dimensional work and sculpture - is Sept. 1. There's a $30 entrance fee. There's a $2,500 prize for best-in-show, first place $2,000, second $1,500 and third $1,000.
The show and the winners will be selected by Brice Brown, an artist and writer who has been published in The New York Times, Art in America and exhibition catalogs.
The Elder Gallery carries work by Philip Mullen of Columbia and Carl Blair of Greenville.
You can find all the details at

Columbia artists have role in New Hampshire chamber music festival

Columbia pianist Phillip Bush, along with being a great pianist, also runs a chamber music festival in New Hampshire. Bush is in his second year as director of The Chamber Music Conference and Composers' Forum of the East, which is quite a mouthful but still a chamber music festival.
This year a couple of other Columbia residents will join him there. Peter Kolkay, a bassoonist on the University of South Carolina music faculty, is playing at several concerts. Kolkay is considered on of the best bassoonists in the country and last year played at the Spoleto Festival USA chamber music series.
Composer John Fitz Rogers, also with the USC music school, has written a six-minute piece "Wondrous Love," for amateur participants. His "Memoria Domi" for clarinet, violin, cello and piano will also be performed at the festival.

Laura Spong's paintings in television show

Paintings by Laura Spong of Columbia can be seen in the television program "Drop Dead Diva" on the Lifetime. The abstract works are in the law office of the main character. The paintings were rented by the show's producers.
If you don't have cable, you can see images of the pieces at and you can see her work in the flesh at if Art Gallery in the Vista and at Vista Studios.

Arts Commission conference deadline coming soon

The S.C. Arts Commission conference is aimed at art providers rather than art consumers. But artists might find some of the sessions helpful and interesting. Session during the September event include big-picture stuff like changes in not-for-profit rules, lobbying state and local government and more hands-on things such as how to prepare photographs for use on the Internet.
It takes place Sept. 15 at the Convention Center in Columbia. If you sign up by July 31 the cost is $75; after that it's $105.

Another looming deadline at the Commission is for the New Audience Road show. It's mainly aimed at introducing people between college and 40 to various arts forms. You get to go to a lot of performances for free and meet mostly cool people. The deadline for that is also July 31. Go to the website above.

Other Arts Commission news. Susie Surkamer retired as director of the agency earlier this year. Considering the economy and the state of state government, it's surprising that the commission is doing a national search for a new director.
It's taking proposals from headhunting firms to look for a new leader and will spend about $10,000 doing so. The commission wants a new director in place by early next year.

1 comment:

  1. i loved how the reflections in that piece looked like illuminated letters.


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